Rogers Centre is two completely different facilities depending upon the status of the roof. With the roof closed it seems very sterile and cavernous due to its enormity; but with the roof open and the sun shining it’s a rather inviting place to watch baseball. The ability to see the CN Tower rise far above the upper deck helps – it provides a sense of scale that is lacking when the roof is closed.
Hailed as a modern marvel when opened in 1989 (then called SkyDome), Rogers Centre introduced us to retractable roofs and includes a hotel with windows overlooking the outfield. While an impressive facility, it was born just prior to the era of the “retro” ballpark. The result is it lacks several key features to which fans are now accustomed:
- A baseball-centric design. Rogers Centre converts to a football field for the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts, meaning the baseball field is symmetric and lacks any of the quirks found in many other Major League venues.
- No bad seats. The sides of the hotel limit the view from some of the rows in the outfield’s upper deck.
- An open concourse that allows you to walk around and view the field from different vantages. Separate entrances for the lower and upper levels make it even more difficult for visitors to move around and enjoy the entire facility.
A Tip of the Cap
- The bright blue seats that look great in the sun.
- The “Level of Excellence” which honors the great Blue Jays in history (they did win consecutive titles in ’92 and ’93).
- Proximity to the CN Tower and many other downtown attractions including the Hockey Hall of Fame.
- A clean and friendly atmosphere.
Swing and a Miss
The biggest disappointment is the lack of options for walking around and seeing the field from different vantage points – there are separate entrances for the upper level and limited views of the field from concourses. The stadium also seems very large for baseball; expansive areas of foul territory make seats seem even farther away.
Trip to the Mound
Seats on the third base line offer a great view of the entire stadium and the neighboring CN Tower behind the first base line. Go up to the top of the CN Tower after the game for an incredible view of Rogers Centre from above.
- Setting (A): Disclaimer: Toronto is my favorite city, so a park in the downtown area is automatically going to get an A. There are truly plenty of things to do and places to see nearby. A good meal at Wayne Gretzky’s is just across the street.
- External Appearance (C+): A nice modern look from afar, but a bit boring and uninviting up close due to the plain concrete appearance. There are some nice touches like The Audience (a sculpture of fans cheering and heckling on the north side of the building).
- Internal Appearance (B-): The use of bright blue seats is rather cool, and the hotel is an unusual sight in the outfield. The concourses are rather dark and boring.
- Atmosphere (B): With the Blue Jays’ glory days over 15 years in the past, and facing the tall task of being in the same division as the big-spending Yankees and Red Sox, Rogers Centre doesn’t draw like it used to. I was part of a small but friendly and enthusiastic crowd for a Sunday afternoon game. When a team is willing to give away real wooden bats for a promotion, I think that says something good about the fan base.